Royal Mint, which is responsible for producing coins in the UK, has produced a series of 29 fifty pence pieces to commemorate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Possibly the most intriguing is one produced by production journalist Neil Wolfson which explains football’s offside rule.

Wolfson is a football fan and a qualified referee and his simple design on the reverse side of the coin gives anyone with a fifty pence piece in their pocket and instant guide to the intricacies of offside.

Offside is one of the shortest of the 17 Laws of the Game but it is the most technical.

It is also essential for the structure of the game, If there was no offside for example the easiest tactic would be to crowd each penalty area with attackers, and therefore defenders, and kick a long ball from one end of the field to the other.

It has evolved over the years.

It used to state that there should be three defenders between an attacker and the goal when he had the ball played to him. This was later reduced to two and in 1990 the attacker became onside if he was level with the second last defender.

There have also been changes in the interpretation of the Law.

The concept of active and passive play was introduced which confirmed that being in an offside position was not an offence in itself.

The assistant referees are the ones with the pressure of signaling for offside in the difficult situations when, for example defenders are running out and attackers are running toward goal or when a long ball is played.

The amazing thing is they get it right most times – even without the help of a fifty pence piece in their pockets.

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